A mixtape is like a mating call. It’s an aural aphrodisiac, a symbol as clear as Lloyd Dobler’s massive boombox in Say Anything; it says, in no uncertain terms, ‘let’s bang.’ That’s why creating the perfect mixtape is such a delicate art: one misplaced Kanye track and you can kiss your chance at romance goodbye. Luckily, we’re experts in the ways of the heart, the body, and the headphones—and we’re here to guide you. If you want to make your sweetheart swoon, it’s time to spice it up: we’ve come a long way since Marvin Gaye, and your mixtape needs to turn your honey on….to some new artists. The songs below are sure to rev things up, so go old-school and make your own mixtape, or ditch some kitsch and craft a sexy digital playlist. From there, it’s full steam ahead to sexytime.
Papa, “I Am the Lion King”
The LA quartet’s whole EP oozes confidence—and confidence is hot. With its fierce drumbeats, well-placed ‘oohs’, and slight bestial possessiveness, you can’t miss the meaning in Papa’s “I Am the Lion King.” If you really want to cut to the chase, though, switch it out for “Let’s Make You Pregnant.”
Nico Jaar, “Space Is Only Noise If You Can See”
Not only is the multitalented (and gorgeous) Nico Jaar the cool kid’s crush du jour, he’s so out-there he created a new tool to listen to music. Spotify, iTunes, Rdio? So mainstream. The object of your affection is eyeing his Prism, so play this sexy, slinky track and s/he will start to eye your….prism.
Sea of Bees, “Skinnybone”
Get your message across with “Skinnybone” by Sea of Bees, which feels like a pull, a yearning, a sweet and earnest ode. Any song with the line ‘I want to hug you day and night’ is guaranteed to give your honey the warm and fuzzies.
Tanlines, “All of Me”
Tanlines are rad. These guys make sweet tunes, and even landed a spot on an indie wedding playlist . So really, you’re just picking wedding songs a bit early. That’s not creepy, right?
Alabama Shakes, “I Found You”
Alabama Shakes have that soul thing going on, so you can totally rock those Marvin Gaye vibes—without the cliché. “I Found You” still obliquely says ‘let’s get it on’, but in a much sweeter (and frankly, more epic) way. It’s hard not to be wooed by the charismatic Alabama foursome, so let their charm work in your favor.
Beach House, “Myth”
I’ve seen Beach House live, and let me tell you—they’re perfect for a little lovin’. Something about that hazy, dreamy, delicious pop puts people in a daze, and you can go in for the kill (kiss) as soon as they start swaying to Victoria Legrand’s hypnotic tone. Any Beach House track will have this effect, but double your cool points by pulling the first single from new album Bloom.
Male, female, straight, gay, everything in between—everyone love Grimes. They go apeshit for Grimes. Just the first few notes of “Genesis” are enough to make people go all soft (but not in, you know, the bad way). And did I mention she’s a visual artist? Bonus points.
Nick Waterhouse, “Some Place”
Rule: Nick Waterhouse must be played on vinyl. Period. This man is so retro, even people from the 1950’s would be forced to admit he out-50s’ed them. Have your honey over for an evening of old-school rhythm & blues, but don’t spend the whole time staring at your thrifted wingtips—it’s 2012! Make a move!
Jack White, “Sixteen Saltines”
This mixtape wouldn’t be complete without an offering from Jack White’s first solo album. Not only does he inspire heartfelt nostalgia for the White Stripes (or the Raconteurs, or even Dead Weather), every twenty-something ever has a label crush on Third Man Records. If you really want to seal the deal, give him or her the special Record Store Day liquid-filled “Sixteen Saltines” vinyl. And you might as well put a wedding ring on top.
Avoid: Summer Camp’s “I Want You”
You’d think a band that takes its cues from John Hughes movies would be the perfect fit for a mixtape—and really, Summer Camp totally is. But “I Want You” is an (admittedly delicious) anthem for modern-day stalkers. Go for their cover of “I Only Have Eyes for You” instead, or the charming “Ghost Train.” Avoid this track, which contains the line, ‘I’ll make you love me so much you’ll have to ask permission to breathe.’ I mean….damn.